The Walker

Why hadn’t I heard of this film before?  Written and directed by Paul Schrader, it’s an intriguing small chamber piece that I caught by chance on the iPlayer last week.

Woody Harrelson plays Carter Page, a  discretely gay Washington DC companion to a coterie of  pampered wives of powerful men: the ‘Walker’ of the title.  He entertains his ladies, Kristen Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall and Lily Tomlin at a weekly canasta game laced with delicious insider gossip.

The conversation is all trivial, the meaning is conveyed through the silences and the turned away eyes and slight movement of sealed lips.  Trusted by his ladies, Carter even acts as chauffeur to KST when she makes her weekly visits to her lover, a lobbyist.  When one day, she reappears only a few moments after she entered the house, they discover that the lover has been murdered.

Loyal, and as he says himself, ‘not naive, but superficial’, Carter protects KST and pretends to the police that he is the one to have discovered the body.  He then finds himself the main suspect and target of prosecutors trying to boost their own political standing in DC.  To save himself, with the help of his young lover, Carter has to investigate the crime himself.

While the murder plot is the engine of the narrative there is nothing of the ‘thriller’ in the movie; not a single car chase of gun fight.  All the events are seen through the eyes of Carter who has spent his whole life hiding his emotions the scion of a wealthy southern family, he is a gentleman and it is that code that dictate his behaviour, even when he finds himself dropped by his ladies ‘That’s the sound of every door in Washington closing.’

Carter’s father was a prominent senator who investigated Watergate.  Although many year’s dead, Carter finds himself constantly measured up against the outstanding public reputation of a harsh and unforgiving  parent.  Ultimately he finds that, despite way his ladies treat him when the scandal is swirling around him, he is a more loyal friend than his father had ever been.

I found his quiet acceptance that despite his loyalty, his desire for nothing other than to provide entertaining company, that the DC establishment would close ranks against him, touching.  Wives return to husbands and unpleasantness is swept away, and those on the outside will never understand the unholy bargains that have been made.

The movie is a tapestry of fabulous interiors.  The weekly card game is in a large heavily draped and carpeted hotel function room; Carter’s apartment is an immaculately tidy vision of good taste, Chinese silk robes displayed on the walls and an elaborate inlaid multi compartmented cabinet for his toupee; his lover, a photographer inhabits an urban style loft filled with steel and computer equipment and screens.

As this film seems to have left very little wake behind it, it must be to minority tastes, but if you enjoy understated acting and minimalist dialogue, then give it a try.

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3 Comments

  1. Hello Rowena,

    Dropping by to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. You cover a wide spectrum of subjects very well. I think writing every day in public media puts quite a pressure on the author. So far you have managed very well to avoid any ‘creaking’ at the edges, if I may say that. I’m not sure I could write something for the web every day, although like all pensmen/women, I write something every day in some form or another, such is the obsession. I always look forward to seeing what you are going to come up with next.

    You’ve covered some subjects I’ve enjoyed myself. I read Siri Hustvedt’s ‘What I Loved’ a couple of years ago and was interested to see your comments on her writing, which I found as another follower of yours said, ‘dream-like’. Also your notes on ‘The Killing’, the Danish drama I latched on to slowly, then became transfixed by for a level of quality I thought television had relinquished a long time ago.

    Excellent stuff, I’m looking forward to reading future posts.

    Ingrebourne.

    Reply
    • Hello Ingrebourne.

      Thank you very much for visiting and leaving such an encouraging message. Some mornings, posting something every day feels like a very odd thing to be doing, but I remind myself that the point of doing it is to see what happens. One of the most rewarding, and I have to admit, unexpected, rewards, has been the making of contacts. Writing something about books or films and TV has been useful in forcing me to formulate what appeals to me, where otherwise I might just say, I enjoyed it or not.

      I have found that the French TV thriller ‘Spiral’ has been a good replacement for The Killing – a bit grittier, and bleaker, but interesting relationships where everyone operates in that grey area between ethical and not.

      Reply
  2. Hi Rowena,

    a pleasure to drop by as always. Yes, I fully understand about the motives for posting and how one can come to question them oneself on occasion. There are times where I think one must simply be single-minded and persevere, in order that the greater purpose of the project (blogging/social media/creativity) becomes clearer as times passes by.

    I’ve taken up your recommendation of ‘Spiral’. Thank you, a good replacement indeed. Bleakness and grittiness in spades. Wonderful.

    Culturally, I agree with what you said. It is a good way of examining your own creative spark or compass when you are able to examine the ‘intake’ of your cultural consumption, as opposed to its output. Food for thought.

    Ingrebourne.

    Reply

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